Can You Text On a Plane 2024? (WIFI vs DATA)

hand texting on a plane

Text messaging is a cost-effective and fast way to communicate, but can you text on a plane, and what other options do you have when you’re a thousand feet above the ground?.

Generally you can text with messaging applications like WhatsApp, Apple iMessage or Facebook Messenger using the airline WiFi, but you can’t send an SMS ( Short Messaging Service) or texts while on your flight using cellular data because of the FCC and FAA regulations.

By the end of this article, you should have a crystal clear understanding whether or not you can text on a plane and what to expect while doing so on your next flight.

Let’s dive right in..

Can You Text On a Plane Using Cellular Data?

Whether you are using an iPhone, an android device or a tablet.

You can’t text on a plane using cellular data for safety reasons.

The FAA and FCC stated that cell phones need to be on airplane mode and must not be used for voice communications or for cellular connections while a plane is in the air.

The signals coming from the phone can mess with pilots’ connections and signals while trying to communicate with air traffic controllers at the ground.

That’s not a good experience 30,000 feet above the ground.

The FCC and FAA ban cell phones for airborne use (on the air) because its signals could interfere with critical aircraft instruments. Devices must be used in airplane mode or with the cellular connection disabled. You may use the WiFi connection on your device if the plane has an installed WiFi system and the airline allows its use.


So generally as long as you are not allowed to use cellular data on your phone, the SMS messaging will not be available.

However; even texting using WiFi will depend on your airline, some airlines may not offer free WiFi or have access to certain apps.

But if the plane has an installed WiFi then you can text using several apps like:

  • WhatsApp
  • Facebook ( Meta ) Messenger
  • Line
  • iMessage
  • TextNow
  • TikTok
  • WeChat
  • Telegram
  • QQ
  • Viber
  • Snapchat

Mobile users in the US texted roughly 2 trillion SMS or MMS messages only in 2021. Now, imagine if passengers could use their phones to send texts while they were on an airplane. It might get really annoying for everyone traveling on the plane. So, it’s probably a good idea not to allow phone calls and texting while on a plane.


Can You Text On a Plane Using Airline WiFi?

You can’t send or receive regular SMS messages using inflight Wi-Fi because these messages can only be sent using your phone cellular data.

Most inflight WiFi allows you to send and text using the usual apps like WhatsApp, Apple Messages / iMessage, etc…

If you purchase a WiFi plane you will be able to send emails, tweet, and login to other social media platforms as much as the WiFi capacity allows.

Here is an overview on airlines WiFi availability.

American AirlinesPaid WiFi is available
United AirlinesPaid WiFi available to enable text messaging and more.
Frontier AirlinesNo Wi-Fi
Southwest AirlinesFree in-flight text messaging available
Hawaiian AirlinesNo Wi-Fi
Delta Air LinesYou can message for free on delta free WiFi (limited to text and emojis, SMS unavailable).
Alaska AirlinesYou can message through iMessage, Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp on flights that also offer in-flight internet. You can send words and emojis, but sending photos, videos or SMS messages isn’t supported.
JetBlue free Wi-Fi is available
Air Canada Paid WiFi Available in selected flights
British AirwaysPaid WiFi available
QantasQantas offers free Wi-Fi on most domestic flights
Some airline allow passengers to text using free WiFi

If you can’t disconnect with the people on the ground make sure that you download all the apps you need and that your airline has access to WiFi before boarding the airplane, it may cost you some additional fees to download an app using airlines WiFi.


What About Phone Calls?

You can’t make phone calls with your cellular network.

WiFi voice calls are not allowed on many airlines.

And so many passengers do not want voice calls either to be allowed on planes, as they want their flights to be time to relax, sleep, read or view a movie, instead of listening to other phone calls.

I don’t think it is a bad idea to make a quick necessary voice call ( if the airline allows them ).

Otherwise I would rather recommend texting, or making the calls at the airport before boarding the plane.

Benefits Of Airplane Mode While Traveling

While Airplane mode may not be suitable for some passengers, it really offers several other benefits.

It will save your battery life especially if you are in a seat without charging ports, or you don’t bring a personal power bank.

When charging your phone, turning airplane mode will help charge your phone quickly, because most of the apps are not connected and consuming the power.

Also it will save you some serious roaming charges especially when traveling abroad, but if you turn on airplane mode and connect with WiFi you don’t need to worry about the possible high roaming fees.

What Are Your Other Options If There Is No WiFi On a Plane?

The only problem with in-flight Wi-Fi is some airlines do not provide it, or you need to break a bank in order to pay for it.

Here is an idea if you are going to pay for WiFi: you can always buy the WiFi cheaper before going to the airport.

What you have to do is to look for your airline WiFi provider and buy WiFi on their official website.

Most airlines operate with GoGo, just browse their website and pay for WiFi, you will save almost half of what you will pay when you are on board the airplane.

Final Thoughts: Can You Text On a Plane?

You can text on a plane using messaging apps like Facebook (Meta) Messenger, Apple Messages / iMessage, WhatsApp, etc… on in-flight WiFi and sometimes even at no cost.

You can’t text or receive messages using your phone cellular data.

The time you board the airplane, the flight attendant will tell passengers to turn on the airplane mode (disable cellular data ), to avoid any interference with the airplane signals.

I hope this helps

Happy travels

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